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Economic Contextual Factors and Child Body Mass Index

In: Economic Aspects of Obesity

  • Lisa M. Powell
  • Frank J. Chaloupka

This study examines the relationship between child weight and fast food and fruit and vegetable prices and the availability of fast food restaurants, full-service restaurants, supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores. We estimate cross-sectional and individual-level fixed effects (FE) models to account for unobserved individual-level heterogeneity. Data are drawn from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics combined with external food price and outlet density data at the zip code level. FE results show that higher fruit and vegetable prices are statistically significantly related to a higher body mass index (BMI) percentile ranking among children with greater effects among low-income children: fruit and vegetable price elasticity for BMI is estimated to be 0.25 for the full sample and 0.60 among low-income children. Fast food prices are statistically significantly related to child weight only in cross-sectional models among low-income children with a price elasticity of -0.77. Increased supermarket availability and fewer available convenience stores are related with lower weight outcomes among low-income children. These results provide evidence on the potential effectiveness of using fiscal pricing interventions such as taxes and subsidies and other interventions to improve supermarket access as policy instruments to address childhood obesity.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Michael Grossman & Naci H. Mocan, 2011. "Economic Aspects of Obesity," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros09-1, August.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11818.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11818
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Shin-Yi Chou & Inas Rashad & Michael Grossman, 2008. "Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(4), pages 599-618, November.
    2. David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Alan C. Monheit & Jessica P. Vistnes & Jeannette A. Rogowski, 2007. "Overweight in Adolescents: Implications for Health Expenditures," NBER Working Papers 13488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
    5. Oliveira, Victor & Frazao, Elizabeth, 2009. "The WIC Program: Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2009 Edition," Economic Research Report 55839, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    6. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson & Jay Bhattacharya, 2005. "Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 253-257, May.
    7. Powell, Lisa M., 2009. "Fast food costs and adolescent body mass index: Evidence from panel data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 963-970, September.
    8. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "Maternal Employment and Overweight Children," NBER Working Papers 8770, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Classen, Timothy & Hokayem, Charles, 2005. "Childhood influences on youth obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 165-187, July.
    11. Guthrie, Joanne F. & Frazao, Elizabeth & Andrews, Margaret S. & Smallwood, David M., 2007. "Improving Food Choices-Can Food Stamps Do More?," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, May.
    12. Dragan Miljkovic & William Nganje, 2008. "Regional obesity determinants in the United States: a model of myopic addictive behavior in food consumption," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 375-384, 05.
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